In a thought-provoking recent article entitled "Saving Election Day," Steve Forbes, Chairman and Editor-in-Chief of Forbes Media (and former presidential candidate), highlights the bumbling election processes which have largely replaced Election Day. He also looks back nostalgically to the time when Election Day meant precisely that: a day of voting which culminated in a winner being declared, not a period of some several weeks before and a couple of weeks following the appointed day, when, hopefully, the American public would know the result.
Saving Election Dayhttps://t.co/xywSn8romc— Steve Forbes (@SteveForbesCEO) November 29, 2022
For Forbes, "[o]ur electoral system in several states is already broken. Days after Election Day, the results from many critical races are still unknown, not because those races were close but because the counting process was - and is - interminable. California is the worst offender, but other states, such as Oregon, are sluggish." In 2022, two weeks after Election Day, some Californian counties had only counted 35-50 percent of their ballots. As of the first week of December, seats in a couple of Congressional Districts and the U.S. Senate in Georgia remain unfilled.
This goes against the purpose of having an Election Day, Forbes notes, which is "so voters can make decisions about particular candidates and issues at a given time . . . [T]he whole point of a campaign is for candidates to make their case to voters. Early voting, especially when it starts in September, distorts the campaign process. It puts underdogs and lesser-known candidates at a disadvantage. Often aspirants create momentum as Election Day nears. But now it’s not an anomaly for a candidate to win the balloting on Election Day but still lose the election. . . Another bad consequence is that candidate debates seem to be a thing of the past; at most there may be one verbal contest. In Pennsylvania, a telling—and the only—debate for the U.S. Senate race was held well after hundreds of thousands of ballots had already been cast."
Forbes contrasts this with the "fair and efficient" electoral process in Florida - in his eyes, "the gold standard." Recalling the problems with the 2000 election, Forbes emphasizes how the state cleaned up its act by passing several reform bills, which resulted in the ballots being counted within hours after the polls closed. "In Florida, for instance, mail-in ballot must be received by 7 p.m. on Election Day, period. There's no controversy over postmarks. The counting of mail-in ballots begins 22 days before Election Day. The count must be posted within 30 minutes after the polls are closed." Forbes also prescribes greater control over early voting ("minimized to two to three weeks before Election Day") and greater control over mail-in ballots (only sent to those who specifically request them).
Finally, Forbes addresses the issue of ranked choice voting and "jungle primaries," which he considers to be "undemocratic," "complicated for voters" and to "reduce party accountability." Forbes concludes that "[a]ll these changes - way-too-early voting, ranked-choice voting and jungle primaries - erode the democratic process." Only by "saving" Election Day can we see the return of election integrity to the U.S. electoral system.